All Book Reviews

Perfect
Amato, Max
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

How do you define perfect? For eraser, it's a flawlessly clean piece
of paper. For pencil, it's a paper full of squiggles and more. Is there a way
that they can learn to work together, get along, and become friends? Read
this simply "perfect" book to find out. You'll enjoy the ways that pencil and
eraser come to life through the illustrations.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Moo, Moo, Chew, Chew Sounds from the Farm
Shand, Jennifer
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Consider reading this this interactive book to your youngster as they
transition from board books to picture books. Its tear-resistant pages make
it ideal! The guessing game format will delight your child as it introduces
new vocabulary and concepts related to the farm.Together you will hear a cow,
pig, horse, and more. A delightful book!

Reviewer's Name: Carol
Pandora's Lab book jacket
Offit, Paul A.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Science is an interesting realm. The public would sure like to think that all scientists are dedicated to finding the purest form of some scientific concept and modifying it to benefit society. However, some things become readily clear: not all societies are the same, and science can be abused. If anything, some of the worst scientific discoveries of the last few centuries were made with the best intentions. Unfortunately, more often than not, the full science wasn’t brought to the table, and plenty of people suffered because of it. Enter Pandora’s Lab, a selection of a few of the worst scientific discoveries and the stories behind what made them go awry.

Each of the scientific discoveries covered in this book had slightly different negative impacts on the world, but the reason why they became so notorious is almost ubiquitous. Science is no place for emotion, so finding quick fixes for something by using science can create worse problems than the ones that were initially there. Scientific rigor is also of utmost importance. Even if many of these horrific discoveries received Nobel prizes, hindsight showed skewed results from the start. Every new and fantastic technology created from scientific research should be scrutinized with a heaping of salt to ensure it can’t be abused.

On the flip side, ignoring sound scientific facts or not considering the full, worldwide implications of a discovery is just as dangerous. Ignorance is bliss, as long as the consequences don’t directly impact you. While we do have the benefit of hindsight, it’s essential to use the lessons presented in this book. We need to examine the science and technology being developed today and do our due diligence to make sure that they don’t inspire genocide or doom all of humanity to an unsustainable new way of life.

A grave lesson about the consequences of bad science, I give Pandora’s Lab 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. W.
The Martian book jacket
Weir, Andy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

As a crew of astronauts leave from Mars, Mark Watney, an astronaut is left behind as he was presumed dead. Watney is forced to survive on Mars with the limited resources and supplies that he has with him. As he is doing so, NASA on Earth are diligently working to bring him home for a rescue mission.

The Martian is a fictional story that interests those who are interested in either science and/or action. Bringing both of these together, it illustrates a stressful novel that will keep the reader on.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
1984
Orwell, George
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

1984 introduces Winston Smith as the primary character. Smith is a middle-aged man that lives within a dystopian society in April of 1984. Being nearly 4 decades after World War II and just a couple of years after the apparent Atomic Wars, Smith lives through the totalitarian state of Oceania, where is activity is consistently surveyed. At this point, Smith attempts to relocate himself from this totalitarian state in order to put him back to normal behavior.

1984 is another novel involving a dystopia, however, it stands out for its strong character development. The premise of the story is heavily shown through the setting, as it demonstrates a controlled and tyrannical lifestyle.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
Awards:
The Things They Carried book jacket
O'Brien, Tim
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Things They Carried follows through the perspective of a soldier within the 23rd Infantry Division. Enlisted during the Vietnam War, the book covers over the soldier's, as well as the platoons experiences throughout. The Things They Carried is a collection of stories that correlate to one another, bringing an ultimate immersion to those that are interested of any war, or historical context.

The Things They Carried is a book that has a deeper insight within the emotional, mental, and physical state of the soldiers that went through the Vietnam War. Having a darker and more serious tone than other novels, it is one that stands out and deserves recognition.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Rowling, J.K.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the last book of the series that follows the adventures of Harry Potter. As Harry and his crew have evidently aged to a more mature level of both wisdom and wizardry, they have no choice but to face Voldemort. Harry, alongside his two best friends, Ron and Hermione begin to destroy Voldemort's army piece by piece. As Voldemort takes control of the Wizardry world, Harry prepares for the ultimate showdown.

The Deathly Hallows is an extremely enticing story that brings an end to the Harry Potter series. Renowned for its fantasy and lore, the Deathly Hallows collectively groups it all into one story for an action-pact and romantic story.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince book jacket
Rowling, J.K.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the 5th book of the Harry Potter series. In this, it embarks upon the adventure of Harry Potter, switching in between the Muggle and Wizard worlds to combat the upcoming villain, Voldemort. As safety is becoming more of a concern, Potter must find a way to combat this new danger that lurks around his home.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is one of the better books of the series, as Harry and the rest of the characters have had an in-depth insight of their character. Now, it can focus upon the story, interesting those who are involved with action-pact novels.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
365 Days of Wonder
Palacio, R.J.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

After reading the critically-acclaimed book WONDER by R.J. Palacio, a family member bought me this book for Christmas. It technically has no plot but instead gives you a positive quote for every day of the year. Each quote and the book included is displayed creatively and colorfully to really amp you up all day every day. This book is called "Mr. Browne's Book of Precepts"
so, at the end of each month, there is a short story told by Mr. Browne teaching the audience lessons. I would recommend this book to any age group, if you're into life-lessons and positive quotes, then surely you should barrow this book (or buy it for year-round use). Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Jaime P
Bomb book jacket
Shienken, Steve
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is perfect for young history enthusiasts, around the age of middle school. It's all about how the world's deadliest weapon was created, researched, spied on, and used. Explaining the race and allies of America to win the Cold War and beat Russia and Japan in creating the very first atomic bomb, this real-life story includes many famous scientists and new scientific discoveries. If you love action, science, and history, then I promise you'll love this book. It is super unpredictable and has a pretty sad ending when one of the countries wins. But who wins? Guess you're going to have to read to find out. Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Jaime P
Inkspell book jacket
Funke, Cornelia
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Inkspell, the second book in the Inkheart trilogy is perfect for you if you enjoyed the first novel. Although it seems quite repetitive to be read immediately after enjoying Inkheart, new characters are still involved, thus leading to new plot twists. The antagonist in Inkheart to Inkspell has changed, again and again with every new task deemed "impossible." To me, it was a little predictable and things went slowly... until the end. In this book, the main character, Meggie, is now a 13-year-old girl who experiences many new things: love, loneliness, and a deeper meaning to sorrow. The vocabulary outlined in this book is also perfect for readers 12-15 and the plot is very dramatic if I may say so myself.

Reviewer's Name: Jaime P
Genres:
Inkheart book jacket
Funke, Cornelia
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book Inkheart, written by Cornelia Funke is a timeless novel filled with magic, fictional characters, and supernatural powers perceived in a way that never before was. At the library, I was looking for a book, fantasy or fiction in particular, and stumbled upon something at the time I didn't know was going to be as good as it was. In the most poignant parts, I was left in tears, and in the most hilarious, well, I was also left in tears.
The main character features a mature 12-year-old girl, which many of the readers, is quite relatable, even to others a few older. There were many climaxes to this story, leaving an unpredicted outcome with each new page; so why would I rate it a 5? Read it for yourself!

Reviewer's Name: Jaime P
Genres:
Book Review: Guts
Telgemeier, Raina
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A graphic novel with heart (and guts). Raina is a fifth grader with crippling anxiety. Sweetly told, the story unfolds to her going to a therapist and getting help. In the end, she learns to cope and trust her friends. Thumbs up!

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Book Review: The Sun Does Shine
Hinton, Anthony Ray
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Wow. I didn't think there is still rampant racism in America but boy was I proven wrong. In 1985, Ray Hinton was unjustly incarcerated in Alabama and will held in Death Row for 30 years. The prosecutor, police, jury, and judge were all white and despite his clear alibi he was found guilty. The police officer who arrested him said he believed Hinton was innocent but was still going to arrest him because if it's not him, it's someone 'like him.'
Throughout his heinous unjust incarceration on death row, Hinton never lost hope that he would be exonerated. His spirit helped the most hardened criminals shoulder their last days.
Eventually Hinton was exonerated, but not before the prime of his life had been stolen from him. He dedicates his life now to abolishing the death penalty, calling it a broken system. According to statistics, 1 in 10 inmates on death row are innocent.
This is a powerful memoir about survival, hope, and resilience. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Record of a Spaceborn Few
Chambers, Becky
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Considering that A Closed and Common Orbit was only loosely related to the first book in the Wayfarers series, I knew that I shouldn’t expect the third book in this series, Record of a Spaceborn Few, to have any significant connection to the previous books. Unfortunately, even the several different storylines in this book were hardly connected, seeming more like a series of short stories that were inter-cut between themselves. While Chambers’ world-building and dialogue are still top-notch, there isn’t anything in this book other than some boring characters living their boring lives.

I understand that any author worth their salt will develop vast amounts of details about the universe they create. However, most authors leave the aspects of the minutia and banal day-to-day lives out of their writing in favor of an actual plot with actual conflict. Instead, this book is filled with the details of world-building and nothing else. If these characters were better connected, or there was a stronger plot driving their stories, it would have maintained my interest. Unfortunately, most of the stories of these characters’ sub-plots are too generic and trope-like for me to care about any of them.

About the only reason I’m giving this book as high a rating as I am is due to the aforementioned writing on the part of the author. The actions and consequences are clearly thought out, and there is a realism to the dialogue that continues from the previous two books (but by this point makes a lot of the characters sound the same). If anything, this book should have been the first in the series. It should have introduced the universe and the stakes that anyone who ventures out into space is sure to face. The fact that it’s (in my opinion) the weakest in the series is probably why more exciting adventures were written for books one and two.

A disappointing and boring record of space, I give Record of a Spaceborn Few 2.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. W.
Book Cover
Lindsay, Jeff
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Riley Wolfe is the best thief alive. You want it stolen? He can do it. And when the Ocean of Light, an Iranian Crown Jewel, is put on display at a NYC art museum, Riley knows he has his next, best challenge. Because this challenge may be the one that does him in.

I requested this as I loved some of Dexter (the tv show), and have been wanting to read a Jeff Lindsay book for a while. I wasn't really sure what to expect, and I got something a bit unexpected. The plot is that of a pretty standard heist novel. There are a bunch of twists, but never fear, you'll see them coming. The main character, though, is where the real interest lies. He's a horrible person, and Lindsay never tries to make him likable. I mean, did I like him? I did not. But he was sort of interesting when he wasn't doing something very predictable and his actions were occasionally thought provoking. Even writing this review, I'm not sure how I feel about him.

TLDR: This book, while sometimes entertaining, was ultimately just ok. If you can't get enough of heists, you may enjoy this one. Otherwise, check out Leigh Bardugo's Six of Crows as it features a twistier heist, deeply flawed but likable characters and will also provide plenty of food for thought. 2 stars. Meh.

Thanks to Penguin Dutton Group and Netgalley for the eARC, which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. Just Watch Me will be released on 03 December and you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Book Cover
Colfer, Eoin
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Artemis Fowl is back!

Well, not really. But his little brothers are a more than sufficient replacement. Twins Myles and Beckett have lived a life of education and luxury (with some mild kidnapping thrown in). But everything changes drastically when a small troll appears on their island. Before they know it, they find themselves kidnapped by ACRONYM (a government organization that deals with magic) and working with a fairy to escape from not one, but two baddies - an evil, mustache twirling duke and a deranged nun that are themselves at odds. Will the Fowl Twins escape in time to save their lives and, perhaps more importantly, human-fairy relations for the rest of time?

This was very cute. Colfer was in top form here, and this held all of the characteristics of a middle grade book that I find to be readable (they aren't always my favorite). Myles is snarky. Beckett is a loose cannon (who can talk to animals!!!). The duke has access to insanely quirky gadgets and wouldn't be out of place as a Despicable Me super-villain. The evil nun is an evil nun. The pace moves quickly, but we still get to know our characters. Aside from its general predictability (adults will see all the twists coming before they happen), it's a fantastic middle grade read. If the narrator is any good, I'll add this series to my list of books that I listen to while running.

TLDR: If you loved the Artemis Fowl series, you'll love this one too! It has all of the best elements of the original series with some fun new quirks and characters. 4 stars - I really liked it.

Thanks to Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley for the eARC, which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. The Fowl Twins is available for purchase on 05 Nov, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking book jacket
Cain, Susan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

While it’s taken me a long time to finally get around to reading this book, most of what Quiet presented was what I had already known by living my life as an introvert. I will applaud this book’s ability to help society realize how ubiquitous the introverts that comprise the population are. Quiet also helps show what our needs are in this world that prizes the traits of extroversion over anything else. Even if there are many times where I have to put on my “extrovert suit,” it helps to know that there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert.

Perhaps my only qualm with this book is how anecdotal the evidence is. Whether it’s stories about famous introverts (which can be inspiring) or younger introverts who are being brought up by parents who don’t quite understand the strengths of the introvert type, Quiet uses a lot of case studies to show how out of place introverts are, especially in the United States. I understand it can be challenging to study a personality type that’s so broad, but a few more references to scientific studies would have been helpful.

What struck me in Quiet was the background it provided on why society evolved to value the extroverts and deem the introverts as “problems.” I still see the effects of this emphasis today. Sure, I put up with being an introvert in an extrovert’s world, and I have made adaptations in my life to survive and thrive in it. I can empathize with the introverts who cannot cope, though, and hopefully, this book can continue to help introverts claim this personality type and own it as I have over the years. Even if we’re different from the perceived norm, we still provide value to a world that insists that louder is better.

A great anthem for those introverts who feel out of place in a gregarious society, I give Quiet 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix book jacket
Rowling, J.K.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix introduces Harry Potter as he progresses to his fifth year at Hogwarts. Harry has fought against a diverse group of enemies that he has founded throughout. Now, Harry Potter faces one of the greatest enemies to have roamed Hogwarts. Afraid of the upcoming attacks and horrors that would surround Hogwarts, Potter prepares a group of students to fight against and safeguard Hogwarts.

The Order of Phoenix introduces as a change of tide regarding to conflict.
This book begins to set the premise for the final books of the series to come, which makes the Order of Phoenix to be a crucial story for the series.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire book jacket
Rowling, J.K.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Once Harry has reached his fourth year at Hogwarts, Harry and his collective group of friends are now starting to become more involved with events at Hogwarts. As an upcoming tournament is arriving, Harry is selected to be a part of the tournament. With insufficient skills required for success at this tournament, he must still attend and participate. The Goblet of Fire ultimately tests Harry Potter's wizardry and how much he has learned over the four years at Hogwarts.

Goblet of Fire is primarily focused upon the idea of camaraderie and ultimately, Harry. Focusing on his weaknesses and his character, this gives the incentive for those who are interested of Harry's principles. Being a great development arc for Harry Potter, the Goblet of Fire is of the few of the series that deserves to be rated 5/5.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Nam T

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